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What’s the word?

Walking into a rehearsal or can be daunting enough without feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Like most other professions, the theatre has a lingo all its own. Many actors, crew members, and sometimes even theatregoers are suddenly thrust into this foreign dialect and end up more confused than when they started. Fear no more, for we’ve provided a bit of vocabulary you can study to get you through.

Ad-libbing: making up or adding lines to fill vocal space, such as shouting in a crowd

Apron: the part of the stage that sticks out in front of the curtain (the round-ish part of our stage) 

Blackout: when all the lights go out, usually at the end of a scene

Blocking: the physical movements the actors perform 

Box Office: where you bought your ticket!

Cameo: a brief appearance onstage, usually by a well-known actor

Call Time: the time an actor must arrive before a performance (it’s an hour before the show begins here at QCT)

Costume Parade: an actual parading of the actors in their costumes to present to the director

Crossover: when an actor walks across the stage, usually without any interaction with the main story in the scene

Cue: the action or dialogue that prompts an actor to perform his/her action or dialogue

Curtain Call: the bows at the end of the show where the actors thank the audience for attending

Downstage: towards the front of the stage

Ensemble: the group of actors that interact as a single unit to tell the story 

Flies: the system of ropes and pulleys that raise and lower set pieces from the ceiling 

(All those lines behind behind Mackenzie)

Fourth Wall: the invisible barrier between the world of the show and our “real world”

“From the top”: starting from the beginning

Green Room: the room where the actors rest between scenes

Grid: the rails where the stage lights hang high above the stage

(A little peek from the audience. This curtain hiding the lights is called the border.)

Hold: to stop the scene, usually to fix an issue

House: where the audience sits! 

House Left: the left side of the audience

House Right: the right side of the audience

Light Booth: the control center where the lights are controlled 

Mezzanine: the part of the house that you climb up the stairs to reach; it’s pictured above

Motivation: the reason a character does something

Objective: what the character wants

Obstacle: what prevents the character from getting what he/she wants

Orchestra: the group of musicians who provide live music; also the part of the house that you walk down the stairs to reach (the seats closest to the stage)

Pace: the tempo or speed of the show 

Pit: the big hole in the stage where the orchestra plays

(Views from above and under)

Proscenium: the brick wall/archway that separates the apron from the rest of our stage 

Props: things that actors carry onstage to help tell the story

Quick Change: switching from one costume to another in a very short amount of time; every actor’s worst fear

Rehearsal: a practice session for actors, orchestra, etc.

Run or Run-through: a rehearsal for performing the entire show 

Scene: one section or chapter of a story

Scene Change: moving the set and getting into position for the next part

Set: the scenery that builds the location and the world of the play 

Sound board: all the buttons and doodads that create noise effects and recorded music

Spike Tape: colorful tape that is laid down to mark where furniture is to be placed (it’s bright so it can easily be seen in the dark)

Stage Left: the left side of the stage when looking at the audience

Stage Right: the right side of the stage when looking at the audience

Tactic: different approaches a character takes to get what he/she wants

Tech: the weekend (and sometimes weeknights) where the entire cast and crew run the show from beginning to end, working out kinks in lighting, sound, and scene changes; usually the week before the show opens

Upstage: the part of the stage farthest from the audience

Wings: the sides of the stage 

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